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How to Negotiate a Car Price

How to Negotiate a Car Price

When it comes to negotiating a car price, there are tips and tricks out there. People want to stay ahead, and that means not overspending on a new or used car. In fact, a good negotiation can save thousands.

Auto Repairs Are EXPENSIVE


Oh, a new car! Or maybe a used new car! Getting a new ride is exciting. It often marks a new chapter in our lives, and every minute of it is a rush, including the negotiation process.


If you’re not careful, you could end up overspending on your new car. There’s no reason to waste money just because a sales person’s manager is on their back about numbers this quarter. 


Instead, take a stand, read up on the tips and tricks the pros are using to buy new cards (and new used cars).

How to Negotiate Your Car Price in Style

It’s one thing to learn how to negotiate your car price, and it’s another to do it in style. Here are some tips that the seasoned vets recommend time and time again.


The basic negotiation rules apply, for starters. Dress for the part. Practice your firm handshake and your nonchalant eye contact plan. 


If you’re worried about how hard it will be to stand tall, then bring along a sidekick who can act as a sort of advocate. Many times, people bring their mom, their dad, or an uncle who knows a lot about cars. A very vocal friend can do the trick.


Nobody wants to overpay for anything these days. Who can afford it? That goes double when talking about buying a car, new or used. 


For the ever-elusive and rarely found great offer, just go ahead with the deal. There’s no sense in chipping away at a price most would already dub a steal. However, there are cases when the price is just too high. 


You just have to be prepared to think win-win. You want to get a good price on the car. They want to close the sale before the end of the day to meet a goal.


Pro tip: don’t think with your heart on this one, folks. These are financial matters. That means you can’t get all sentimental dreaming about how you’ve always wanted an XYZ car, and now here’s your chance.


It isn’t “Do I have the money, or no?” It’s “Is this a fair price, or no?”

Get Ready to Haggle for a New Car

The first item of business when learning how to negotiate your car price is research. You’ll have to dig deep and hunt out the facts to get the best deal. At the same time, knowing the value of your trade-in certainly helps.


There are plenty of websites that can tell you the value of a car. Some of them even consider the condition and zip code where the sale will be made. This clues buyers (and sellers) into market values. Their job is to meet in the middle.



  • Kelley Blue Book
  • Edmonds


Remember the golden rule of sales, timing is everything. If you try to buy a car at the end of the month, for example, you might get a better deal. Hot-to-trot sales people will push it through to meet goals.


When the most recent year hits the sales floor, that could be the time to strike if you’re willing to put money down on last year’s model. Steep discounts often follow for car’s that are only a few months old.


Remember, think with your brain, not with your heart. Buying a car pulls at the consumerist’s heartstrings a bit too much.


It’s fun to buy a new car. You’re getting new speed. New wheels. A whole new lifestyle in one afternoon. It changes everything.


Salespeople absolutely know it’s exciting, so they talk fast to try to rev you up. When the thrill is high, they swoop! $5,000 over the MSRP. What?


It’s the last one on the floor. Somebody else was in this morning looking at, ready to put cash down. But if you sign now, the deal is yours.


Hold up. Hold on. Wait a second. If you’re onto something like this, start over. You’ve totally lost control of the situation.

Getting the Best Deal on a New Car

After you realize how important it is not to get caught up in the thrill of the moment when negotiating a car price, you’ll start to get a clearer perspective of how this vehicle is in fact an investment, not a daydream.


The name of the game here is making a win-win deal. 


You want to both walk away feeling like winners. If they’re really good salespeople, they might act like you’re robbing them when you’re not, though. Be careful.


RULE: You do not have to accept a bad deal out of guilt.


Do not get tricked into sticking around for a bad deal. It doesn’t matter how many test drives you took, how good the coffee and cookies were in the reception area, or if your coworker’s brother recommended the place.


If it’s a bad deal, just walk away.


Don’t fall victim to pressure. Use the facts to make your point. You can take a stand by stating market value points. Don’t cave in. Go slow. There’s no rush. Let them sweat. You’ll see your way through.


Experts recommend ensuring that you’re not hyper-focused on the monthly payment amount. It can be easy to let the sales team wrap up all the fees into one neat little package.


Instead, ask about the total sales price. You have to be able to see the long-term cost. You might have a $200 payment for longer and save more money with a $300 payment for fewer months, for example. Don’t let them sweet talk you.


Tell them you want the “out the door number” and with all the fees, licenses, and taxes included. You don’t want any surprises when you pull out the checkbook. 

Tips for Negotiating Your Car Price

When it comes to new cars, there are some tips that help when the buyer wants to negotiate the car price.


The first tip is to remember that the makers are the boss. If Ford tells the lots, “We’re offering a deal on this model,” they have to oblige. You should be sure that the dealership promotions match those of the automaker. If not, push for the best deal.


You can definitely utilize the loan people who work at the car dealership, but you don’t have to. In fact, if you need to use a different setup, go for it. Sometimes your insurance agency or your current bank can offer you a good deal on an auto loan. It never hurts to ask.


If you have the cash for the car, you have a card in your favor. Just don’t let anybody call your bluff.


There are plenty of situations where you can nickel and dime the sales rep by putting a cash offer on the table. All the money’s upfront, now and today. The guy who counts the money loves it.


On the other hand, though, you could be missing out on a good deal. Sometimes banks or dealerships create deals that are only valid if you agree to finance. In such a case, you could save more money by financing. Do the math.


If you live in a big metropolitan area like Chicago, Milwaukee, or South Bend, you need to be smart about shopping around. There is no shame in checking with various Jeep dealers, even if they’re further from home than you normally travel. 


Perhaps driving an hour out for the best car deal is worth it if you’re saving thousands of dollars.


You can at least call or send an email. Having a few quotations from various dealers can help you better analyze the offer on the table.

Adding to the Used Car Tips for Negotiating the Price

Buying a used car can be different. There are a lot of different variables that get factored into the equation. 


For example, the year, make, and model as well as dents, dings, and bumps can make or break the asking price.


First of all, as we always say around here, buy used cars with caution. If you’re not doing your homework about recalls and lemons, you could be investing in a car that’s headed straight to the local junkyard.


Sometimes, of course, the used car is worth the risk, though. When you buy one, you should be doing a sort of background check via the Carfax service. Be mindful that the service doesn’t catch everything, though.


Carfax only lists what is reported. Plenty of small garages and crooked people don’t report serious incidents to Carfax or similar services due to a fear of the car losing its value.


Start listing all the problems with the car as soon as you see them. 


You have to make it seem like you’re 100% unimpressed with the vehicle, like this is an absolute obligation.


If you’re feeling strategic, do not mention these little details until it’s time to close the deal. This puts pressure on the seller to lower the price (or they’ll lose the sale), according to some experts.


If they’ve been having a hard time unloading the car or truck, you could be in luck.


Maybe you are good friends with a mechanic; you can bring them with you to close the deal. Tell the salesperson your buddy is a professional and that they would like to take a look.


Even better, try to get the car into the mechanic’s garage for a peak on the hood. This will help ensure there are no problems. 


Sometimes this leads people to realize that the price is a steal. For a little fixing up, the car could be flipped for a profit.


Another tip is to research recalls and ask if the work has been done.


Big dealerships should be able to tell you what recalls have been performed based on the vehicle identification number (VIN).


Be sure to ask about a warranty or guarantee. Not all deals will warrant one, so don’t be surprised if the answer is no. However, if you can get something in writing, do it.


Sometimes if you buy a car from a dealership that has some problems sooner than one would expect, you can complain for a discount. For example, if you’re getting your first oil change but find out you need new brakes all around, you should complain.


How could a car you bought 3,000 miles ago need new brakes already? It doesn’t always work, but some places do whatever it takes to keep the paying customer happy.

When A Good Deal Goes Bad

When a good negotiation ends up being a total fake, you’re stuck with a lemon. 


This means that you thought you got a good deal, but the car is a total dud. Its head gasket is blown. It doesn’t shift into first. Every light on the dash illuminates.


If this occurs, take a breath. It does happen to people, and many times there’s nothing more you can do about the situation other than send the car to the junkyard.


It can be embarrassing, but you’re doing the responsible thing by putting the car out of its misery. The best part is that calling the junkyard is more like a recycling program. The car parts can be used to keep other cars up and running.


That’s reassuring! You’ll be paid cash money for the junk car, so you don’t walk away empty handed.


The experts have weighed in. When it comes to learning how to negotiate for a car, the best plan is to do your homework, stand tall, and if worse comes to worse, walk away and admit defeat.